Derek Mackay has confirmed a new schedule for the completion of the Calmac ferries under construction at Ferguson’s shipyard will not be drawn up until October.
The Finance Secretary made the admission after meeting the new group appointed to ensure work on the two west coast vessels gets finished after announcing the nationalisation of the yard last week.
The Programme Review Board, chaired by Michelle Rennie of Transport Scotland, has been tasked with establishing a “robust delivery schedule” by the end of October.
Mr Mackay announced that Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd is being taken into public ownership following a long-running dispute over the cost of the ferries earmarked for the Ardrossan to Arran route and the Uig to Tarbet and Lochmaddy route.
In 2014, the yard was saved from collapse by Clyde Blowers tycoon Jim McColl in a deal that was partly brokered by former first minister Alex Salmond.
The yard secured a £97million contract to build the two vessels on behalf of the government agency Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd. But the cost has almost doubled in the intervening period.
FMEL has also received £45million in Scottish Government loans since the yard was saved from collapse. Mr McColl, one of Nicola Sturgeon’s economic advisers, has been highly critical of the Scottish Government’s nationalisation policy.
Speaking after he convened the first meeting of the review board at the shipyard in Port Glasgow, Mr Mackay said: “We have always been clear that we want to complete the vessels, secure jobs and give the yard a future.
“On Friday, I met with the excellent workforce and stressed the Scottish Government’s commitment to achieving the best possible outcome for the yard.
“Today, I convened the first meeting of the newly established Programme Review Board and tasked them with establishing a new delivery schedule for both vessels and a revised cost window.
“This group will help assess the current situation and ensure the effective and efficient delivery schedule of the CMAL ferry contracts as quickly as possible.”
The board will include representatives of CMAL, the Scottish Government and David MacBrayne, which includes CalMac ferries, Marine Scotland and Scottish Enterprise.
Scottish ministers are currently operating the yard under a management agreement with administrators, which will see the Scottish government buy the facility if no private buyer is found within four weeks.